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The heavy wooden door swung closed behind my parents with a sense of finality, leaving me on my own for the first time. After an emotionally draining move-in, I contemplated staying in the dorm, but part of me wanted to capitalize on this fresh start. Taking a deep breath, I stepped into the hall.

As soon as I pushed open the glass doors of Eppright Hall, I met a burst of steamy air, excited chatter and the smell of roasting hot dogs. Determined to break out of my scared freshman shell, I approached a group huddled around some picnic tables. A tall senior, whose dark hair curled boyishly around the brim of his official-looking white hat, smiled and asked my name.

Slightly intimidated by these outgoing individuals, I tentatively gave my name and he gave his: Jon. Jon invited me to spend the rest of Howdy Week in the “ModQuad,” a rectangular lawn bordered by four modular dorms on Southside. Another guy, Ryan, introduced himself and made a cryptic comment I wouldn’t understand until later: “Can we tell them what organization we’re with?”

Over the next few days, I made ModQuad my home, playing 42 and chatting with Jon, Ryan and other members of the same undisclosed organization. I met Jon’s fellow leaders, Keagan, Jacob, Trey and James, who also donned the white hats emblazoned with “Les Appelt Hall.” I was often quiet, so Jon and James took me under their wings, ensuring I felt included. When the week ended, Jon pulled me aside and told me about the organization: Student Bonfire.

Throughout the semester, I spent countless hours with my crew, both in and out of the woods. During the week, we played games, stayed up late pretending to study in Evans Library and ate dinner together in the Commons Dining Hall. If I missed an event, Jon texted, asking if I was okay. I earned the nickname “Green Goblin,” which delighted me to no end. I finally had friends in College Station.

Once mid-October hit, I spent almost every evening at Stack, the final phase of Bonfire construction. During these nights, I bonded with “Old Town Road,” another crew member who lived across from me in Eppright Hall. We carpooled to Stack and stayed up afterward, discussing life problems and undertaking crazy shenanigans like turning an old pair of boots into “BirkenBoots,” sandals with the calf part of the boot still attached.

Fast-forward to today, and I am surrounded by the closest friends I’ve ever had. Old Town Road and I became Les Appelt crew chiefs, along with Elias, Ande and Toy. After leading the crew side-by-side, I trust them with my life. Everyone in Appelt respects me, confiding in me when they struggle and greeting me with an excited “Goblin!” every time I enter a room. All it took was stepping out of my dorm, and my comfort zone, to create bonds that I can tell will last a lifetime.

About the Author

Born in Dallas and raised in Jacksonville, Texas, Bec Morris ’23 is a junior journalism major at Texas A&M University. A third-generation Aggie, they were preceded in enrollment by their grandfather, Wayne Beal ’68, their parents Danny and Audra Morris ’97, and their older sister, Ariana Alvarez ’21. While at Texas A&M, Bec has been involved in Student Bonfire, The Battalion and the Society of Professional Journalists. When Bec isn’t running from activity to activity, they enjoy playing with their dog, Gemini, as well as watching true crime stories and reading horror novels. After graduation, Bec hopes to attain a master’s degree in counseling psychology and offer free therapy to underserved populations while freelance writing for magazines.